View-source magic

Ever been surprised when someone you find absolutely brilliant doesn’t know something extremely basic that you thought everybody in the field knew? I felt that way when I saw Jon Udell making a big deal about the view-source protocol:

Don Box notices a cool IE feature. The view-source: protocol is supported. I tried it and it worked. Even cooler, I wasn’t in IE at the time, I was in Firebird. I guess we should call it a browser feature :-)

I’ve been using the view-source: prefix to view the source of URLs since Netscape 3! I’m fairly certain that Netscape invented it, so spinning it as an IE feature kind of rubs me the wrong way. I am glad that most browsers support it. I have a view source web development bookmarklet that makes it even more convenient. Until Mozilla came along, using view-source: or saving the page was about the only way you could view JavaScript .js files in the browser. If you tried to open the URL for one in Netscape 4 you’d just get a blank window. Using the view-source protocol also makes it easy to experiment with how different query strings affect the source of a page.